Top Story of the Week: Crucial reforms at stake in Philippine elections
LOOKING AHEAD Mid-Term Elections on Monday, May 13. TOP STORIES The Philippines is currently holding mid-term elections for more than 18,000 positions ranging from local to national government. President Benigno Aquino is banking on his high approval ratings to translate into a large win that will allow him to cement his reforming agenda. Secretary of Finance, Cesar V. Purisima announced that the government will lobby Congress at the next legislative session in July, to in act reforms that will open up some investment areas to foreign nationals, harmonize fiscal incentives and revive the mining industry.
Top Story: Thai Foreign Minister holds talks with U.S. Secretary of State
IN THIS UPDATE: Defense & Security
+ All quiet at border near disputed Phra Viharn temple
+ Busy year ahead for Trade Promotion Dept
Top Story: ASEAN Infrastructure Spending to Top $500B by 2020 (ENR, 5 May)
Economic growth in Thailand, Indonesia, the Philippines, Vietnam and Malaysia will remain strong at an average 6% this year, according to the International Monetary Fund. The countries represent the top five economies of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, or ASEAN.
Top Story: Najib seen keeping ‘transformation’ theme with Cabinet picks
After fielding a ‘transformation’ team in the 13th general election (GE13), Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak is expected to form a ‘transformation’ Cabinet. He needs a strong team with new ideas to continue the national transformation agenda towards making Malaysia a high income and developed nation by 2020. This is important because their performance will be judged by the people who will vote for the party in the 14th general election (GE14).
Top Story of the Week: Indonesia Buys German Tanks
TOP STORIES The 7th ASEAN Defense Minister's Meeting, held last week in Brunei, produced a joint declaration reaffirming the commitment of ASEAN countries to enhanced regional peace and security. In addition to reiterating the importance of good communication channels in addressing issues surrounding the South China Sea, the ASEAN countries also signed a joint statement with the US acknowledging the importance of maritime security, transnational crime and humanitarian assistance/disaster relief. Indonesia purchased 104 Leopard 2 tanks and 50 armored personnel carriers from Germany. The sale is one of the most significant purchases of high-quality equipment Indonesia has made thus far, as part of a $15 billion five-year drive to modernize its military.
Top Story: Party Central Committee meets in Hanoi
Top Story: IP protection progress to attract more investments
Brunei’s latest major progress in Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) protection will help set itself in a better position as an attractive investment destination and towards fostering more innovation among local businesses, said a US envoy to Brunei. The US Ambassador to Brunei His Excellency Daniel Shields said, with Brunei's recent removal from the Special 301 Report Watchlist, the Sultanate is becoming a more attractive destination for American and other foreign investors, and that Bruneian inventors and entrepreneurs are enjoying more protection than ever for their inventions and innovations.
Top Story: ASEAN+3 endorse initiative for infrastructure financing bonds
ASEAN countries, together with China, Japan and South Korea, on Friday endorsed an initiative on "Fostering Infrastructure Financing Bonds Development" in order to boost infrastructure projects in Southeast Asian countries. The finance ministers, central bank governors and senior officials of these countries said the Asian Bond Markets Initiative, or ABMI, has been making continuous progress under the auspices of the ASEAN+3 framework in promoting issuance and facilitating the demand of local currency denominated bonds.
Top Story: First Indonesian Report on Extractive Industries Transparency Released
+ Southeast Asia to reach out to China on sea disputes
+ Microsoft Carbon Fee Funds
+ Higher Fuel Prices Won’t Necessarily Get Drivers Off Roads
Top Story of the Week: Hagel picks ASD Mark Lippert as Chief of Staff
TOP STORIES Assistant Secretary of Defense for Asian & Pacific Security Affairs Mark Lippert will become Secretary Hagel's TSA (chief of staff), leaving the ASD position vacant. Peter Lavoy, PDAS for AfPak & India will be Acting Assistant Secretary for the second time in two years. Participants and observers at the recent ASEAN Summit praised Brunei for restoring optimism for achieving common ground on the South China Sea. Progress was made by focusing on the need to agree to a binding code of conduct with China, rather than a focus on resolving overlapping claims.